Saturday afternoon saw a dominant Manchester City beat Fulham 2-0, with a sublime finish from Raheem Sterling followed by a penalty converted by Kevin De Bruyne.
Pep Guardiola’s side earned their first back-to-back victories of the season, pushing the Blues to fourth place in the table. The triumph marked Guardiola’s 250th game for the club, and in that time he has now registered 184 wins. City controlled the game throughout, registering 16 shots at goal and securing 69% possession.
Here’s five things we learned from the game…
Kevin De Brilliant
Wow. We really are running out ways to explain our love for Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian put on a spectacular show in midfield, striding forward almost effortlessly with the ball and picking out seemingly impossible passes throughout the entire game. His well-placed through-ball just five minutes in put Sterling in a perfect position to slot it past Areola, and he coolly converted the penalty to add a goal to his tally as well.
The performance against Fulham takes De Bruyne to an impressive two goals and 10 assists in just 13 games this season – more assists than the entire Manchester City side put together.
I know I’m not the only fan who welcomes the news of him coming close to signing a new long-term contract at the Etihad Stadium, which is reported to take the star midfielder through to June, 2025.
After watching Raheem Sterling’s performance today, it was surprising to think he had not scored in the Premier League since the 1-0 win against Arsenal back in October. The winger played with confidence, taking opponents on with ease and never backing away from a chance to take a shot at goal.
He latched on to Kevin De Bruyne’s pass perfectly to find the bottom corner and put Manchester City ahead, and his fancy footwork in the Fulham box won the penalty just 20 minutes later.
You would be excused to say that so far this season Sterling has not been at his best, but today he proved that he’s just as capable as ever to use a burst of pace and find the net.
Back to our best?
Okay let’s not get ahead of ourselves, Burnley and Fulham aren’t the most ferocious opponents we will come up against this season – but regardless, it is very refreshing to see glimpses of the slick playing style we were once accustomed too.
Tiki-Taka passing, bursts of pace, confidence at the back – we look like a completely different team to the one that lost to Tottenham and Leicester earlier this season.
By half-time it was clear that Manchester City were on top – 75% possession and a two-goal advantage, and the dominance carried on throughout the second half too. One thing I was especially impressed with was the patience shown when on the ball, with the team more than happy to wait for an opportunity to put in the killer pass or take a shot at goal.
Lets just hope that this form can carry on throughout the season…
Leading on from that, I have a question for Pep Guardiola: what have you done with our defence?!
The backline has made a clear improvement since the start of the season, and despite a communication error between John Stones and Ederson (that nearly ended in a horrific own goal), they barely put a foot wrong today.
Benjamin Mendy and Joao Cancelo had the freedom to confidently offer attacking support, and both players whipped in several teasing crosses into the box and defended securely.
As for John Stones and Ruben Dias, three clean sheets from their last three pairings together just proves how strong of a partnership they are forming. The latter has demonstrated to be an excellent signing so far, and his English partner has found a much-needed boost in form to make him a dependable option in front of Ederson.
Five substitutes, three substitutes, or none?
For the first time since April 2005, Manchester City did not make any substitutions in a game of football. I am no football manager, but with a bench containing the likes of Phil Foden, Ferran Torres, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho – you would expect some changes to be made, especially when the team are operating on cruise control.
Okay yes, there were seven changes in the line-up from the Porto game midweek, and when a win is almost guaranteed there may not be much point in changing the current system, but giving some game time to Foden and Torres when we’re comfortably ahead could give them a big chance to show off their skills and boost their confidence.
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